My first bad experience :(

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by heavenlymom, Sep 18, 2008.

  1. heavenlymom

    heavenlymom TPF Noob!

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    I knew it would happen eventually. No matter how hard you try you can't ever keep every customer happy. I opened my studio in April and had been doing fairly decent on keeping customers happy and keeping my prices very low. Working as a photographer in the past for other companies I knew that at some point I would do something wrong and tick off the wrong person.
    That time has now come. I had issues with mailing a CD due to problems with my post office. I am taking the blame, I have no problem. The CD was finally mailed off (a month later) and received and now they say there is more than their photos on their CD. I should have double checked it but I let an associate who was helping me out burn it and assure me they were all on there (they knew what photos were this customers). I am giving back a partial refund since they have received their photos. You'd think this would make them happy since that is what they asked for. I even offered a free session and free CD of all the portraits for this holiday season and told them the CD would be in their hands the same day before they left. They refused, which is fine. They are still not satisfied.
    I hadn't been opened long when they first came in so they got all their portraits, plus two re shoots (they weren't satisfied) for under fifty dollars.
    I know most would refund their whole payment, but I decided to do only partial as I don't take to rudeness well. I was contacted by phone and threatened to have my reputation ruined if I didn't refund at least part of the payment. It would have been nice if they had contacted me and just simply said, I am unhappy with the service, please refund my money. Nope, couldn't do that though. I have never been short with a customer, not once but right now honestly I don't know how I will do in this business because this person has me on the verge of tears. No matter what I do they will slander my name and ruin my business and that is bad for a photographer just starting out. It wouldn't make a difference if I refunded them the whole amount, it has been stated that they still will make a point of telling everyone they know to bypass me.
    I admitted fault, and apologized. I have done all I can do and still ... they are unhappy.

    Now that being said, I know this will happen from time to time in a business no matter how hard we try not to. People and myself will make mistakes and customers will get angry. If anyone has any advice on how to handle these situations and move on I'd love some. Please be somewhat kind as my self esteem in the photography business is lower than normal right now.
    I do have many pleased customers who come back, but I hate having people dislike my stuff. LOL! I know that will happen a lot, but it still stings.
    Advice on how to toughen up and take the good with the bad.
     
  2. rub

    rub TPF Noob!

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    Sorry to hear aout your siuation. Keep your head up high, you did all you could. And honestly - if those people decide to be nasty and try "ruin" you, others may pick up on their attitude - the one that says to the world "I am better, I deserve everything, I can't be pleased, I am a *****" And ya know what? Most people in the world dont care for those attitudes ;)

    Let people judge you on your portfolio, your attitude, your skill.

    And even though I don't think those customers deserve another thought, try to REALLY understand what they were unhappy, and use that knowledge to better yourself and your art.
     
  3. epp_b

    epp_b No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Hold on...regardless of who else's pictures were on their CD, they did still get all of their own pictures, right?
     
  4. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Many photographers follow the rule: never give the money back.
    With some people, once they know that they can get something back, they will keep pushing you...seeing what else they can get. Of course, there will be times when a customer isn't satisfied, but I'd suggest finding other ways to placate them. Offering a re-shoot is usually a good idea, but with some people, it won't help.

    This really stood out to me, and I think it's a big part of your problem.

    You should be striving to keep your customers happy while getting your price as high as your customers will pay.
    Firstly, if your prices are really low, you will attract the type of clients who are only looking for a deal...these are often the same type of people who will try to get something for nothing by complaining that they are not satisfied. If your prices are higher, the people who come to you, will be doing so because they like what you do...they will be much less inclined to complain.
    Secondly, when you charge more, people will think of your service/product as having more value. They might be very proud to have a $500 print hanging on their wall, while the same photo at $20 might not get the same respect.

    It's easier said than done, but my suggestion would be to toughen up and put in a 'no refund' policy and then raise your prices.
     
  5. youbetcha1018

    youbetcha1018 TPF Noob!

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    That is so sad. I'm sorry to hear about what happened to you. Well, I can feel that you did all that you could. But of course, there are customers/clients who are just being so uncontrollable with their emotions. Do not expect that they would say the words you expect them to say. Well, just wanna know if they also return the CD back to you? since they're not happy about it and you have just returned their money back.
     
  6. 93rdcurrent

    93rdcurrent TPF Noob!

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    I never negotiate my price after the work is done. If a mistake is made I will correct it but that is as far as it goes. Were the shots and cd worth the $50? Probably that and more. So why would you allow a client who most likely isn't satisfied with their own lives take out their frustrations on you. Worse yet it sounds like you have even allowed their belittling to get into your psyche. I am firm but fair. I would offer them something as a gesture but I would not allow them to feel like they have power over me.

    Really who are they going to tell? People who take their advice seriously are probably the same people you don't want as clients. Good riddance I say. Let them do your dirty work for you. How many happy clients do you have? Let them be the judge of your work and let them do your advertising. If these folks come back to your studio let them know that you will manage the photos you have already taken of them but that they need to call to place any orders and you have fired them as clients for any new business. They can let their friends know that they made such asses of themselves over a simple mistake that they are no longer allowed to step foot in your business.

    As for the photos from someone elses photoshoot... do you keep all your files in completely seperate folders... if not start doing so now. Make sure that any associates working for you are in only one folder at a time and that they are not hopping from one client folder to another with out closing the first one down. That will end your problem hopefully.

    And good luck... hope business has been doing well other than this situation for you.
     
  7. Joe S

    Joe S TPF Noob!

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    certainly frustrating, I have to agree with 93rd, once the price has been agreed upon that is the price. If you want to offer a reshoot or another CD to alleviate frustration on the part of the customer then that's negotiable. Sadly some people are just not worth trying to please, if you run into one of these every year or so then consider yourself lucky.

    My best advice would be to stick with your happy customers and ASK FOR REFERRALS
     
  8. heavenlymom

    heavenlymom TPF Noob!

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    Thank you everyone.
    I did screw this one up and I know my prices are very low, it's something I am only doing through the rest of this month and next as an introductory type grand opening. They are specials not the actual prices. I am just trying to gather clientele right now. Other than these people things have been going pretty well. And yes, they did get all their portraits, around 150 of them all edited with enhancements and regular color. It was well worth over $50.00.
    I just want to be done with them and over it. I have to toughen up and not let so much get to me. I will start keeping clients in different folders. It was something I wasn't doing before, but I agree it's a very good idea.
    I appreciate the support. Thank you guys again.
     
  9. Brian Austin

    Brian Austin TPF Noob!

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    Some advice...

    1. You're done with the client. Period. You've become a hobby to them. Ignore them. Next time they call, your response should simply be "I'm sorry but there is nothing I can do to help you now. I've given you all I can give and you'd be better finding someone else to help you. Thank you." If they continue to bother you, notify them that any further communication will have to be done through their lawyer. Hang up after that.

    No lawyer is going to take a case like that, btw.

    2. Join the Professional Photographers Association and start taking their business courses. $50 for 150 photos is beyond an introductory, get clientele offer. You're losing money just talking to the customer at that point, especially digital images only and no future print sales. Stop doing that. $50 for 5 or $50 off your first senior session or something. Intro offers should be a tease. You want them in the door and interested. Then open up with the "better" stuff that's beyond the $50.

    3. Some people love you; some people hate you. Fact of life. If you want to have some fun with it, point the problem children to your competitors. ;)

    4. You need to learn workflow. To have a professional studio yet not realize that client sessions should be kept in separate folders is rather amateurish. If your workflow is that basic, you might want to look at a workshop or PPA course that will help you streamline it. I suspect you're spending way too much time on post production, too, especially if you're actually editing 150 images for that same $50.
     
  10. bigalbest

    bigalbest TPF Noob!

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    Right on the money as usual Big Mike, that was the phrase that caught my attention also. I definitely wouldn't give a refund on a disc, no way.
     
  11. joecoulsonphotography

    joecoulsonphotography TPF Noob!

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    Great advice everyone, I would only add that people like that...
    would more than likely be known by their friends (if they have any) and family that they are cheap and never satisfied. These are the sorts of people that do not get listened to for advice on where to go for this that and the other. I would not even worry that those :grumpy: would harm your business at all. You would not want anyone from their family coming in because they would probably want a David Bailey for a Walgreens price. You seem to be a very sweet person who cares about her work. That will come out in both your pictures and your business. Be proud, don't give your heart away for peanuts. Regards, Joe.:)
     
  12. heavenlymom

    heavenlymom TPF Noob!

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    Thank you everyone!
    I have a lot to learn in this business and suspect I'll still be learning fifty years down the road lol. I appreciate all the advice. I am just going to put this down as a live and learn situation and do as one suggested when they call and tell them I have done all I can for them and that they would be better off going to another studio for future sessions.
    After reading what you all suggested I agree, my prices are very low. It's time to make a change. Thank you so much.
    :blushing:
     

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